Should crackers be banned?

Post Diwali there has been a media-wide hysteria regarding the pollution levels in the capital city of India – Delhi. While different media reports highlighted a myriad of numbers to describe the pollution severity as ranging from 8 to 42 times the safe limits, according to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) of the Union ministry of earth sciences, the levels of particulate matter in Delhi were recorded at minacious (severe, threatening) levels of over eight times the safe limit. Some reports pointed out at effete (weak, impotent) visibility creating stygian (dark, gloomy) surroundings, while others indited (wrote) of blustering (loud, boisterous) levels of noise pollution. But what was really common about the whole dialectic – the contumely (contemptuous, harsh) towards the festival of Diwali, arrogating (unfairly attribute to) the entire cause to bursting crackers. It was as if the tumid (exaggerated, swollen) obloquies (slander, abuse) casting aspersion (hate) towards the most celebrated festival of this country were hell-bent on foisting (forcing, pushing) a misplaced opinion of “crackers creating catastrophic environmental conditions”. Sequacious (following sequentially, smoothly) to the incunabulum (early, primitive) stages of reporting, the wicked ones didn’t leave any stone unturned to turn this diatribe (tirade, verbal attack) towards fire-crackers into a right wing vs liberals (seculars) battle and further devious (scheming, wily) ones fully polarised the issue. Some counter opinions too surfaced comparing the impact of crackers led pollution with sacrificing of lambs during Eid, thus only reinforcing the “polarising” arguments.  With all the noise around, how could social media remain immune! What followed was a complete virality of opinions totally devoid of facts and figures but based on mere judgements & hearsay. Consternation (concern, anxiety) was that most of these merely mussitated (imitated) the prosaic (clichéd, trite) condemnation of firing crackers and very few hinted at highlighting other causes as well.

Yes I fully agree that firing crackers doesn’t add any value to the environment, if at all it would only make the problem of pollution worse. I also agree that there is nothing wrong in sententious (self-righteous; tending to be excessively moralizing) calling-out for reduction in cracker bursting. But calling for a complete ban is not only unfair but also akin to a knee jerk reaction. It is a mode that defines celebration of a festivity and no potentate (king, ruler) has the right to deprive the occasion off its individuality.

Several articles available online using guesstimates, logical reasoning & citing research studies have delineated the impact of firecrackers on the overall pollution levels between 1/3rd to 1/4th. This school of thought implores (urges) the use of Pareto principle in identifying the root causes of the problem and addressing them with solutions in the order of severity. Voluble (fluent, verbose) dictions (use of words) have pointed out several far more severe & impactful causes of air pollution like vehicular emissions, burning of straw in the fields of Haryana & Punjab, dust & particulate emissions owning to ever going on construction in Delhi-NCR, complete flouting of dust control norms followed by builders during construction, carbon footprint from discretionary consumption like lamb, beef, usage of AC etc. In other words, crackers, which are mostly composed of paper & propellants like potassium nitrate apart from the usual fuel components like carbon, sulphur etc, do not contribute negatively to environment in terms of impact vis a vis the other sources as described above.

This is definitely not to say that we as citizens simply bandy (non serious discussion) about this serious topic and owe no responsibility to the environment. Yes, we must abjure (give up, relinquish) “heavy” use of crackers but at the same time also pledge to reduce our carbon footprint from other activities too like car pooling, using public transport, reducing non-veg intake, conserving electricity, buying higher energy saving rated appliances etc. This will certainly go a long way in protecting our air and will eliminate the need to bringing restrictions to festivities in a country like ours defined by plurality!

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